To Grow Healthy Rhubarb, Bet on Sun, Soil, and Time

May 25, 2018

Rhubarb is one of the first flavors of spring. It's delicious in desserts and, some would argue, out of hand. On this Talk of Iowa, we share tips for growing rhubarb.

Linda Naeve, ISU Extension Specialist in Value Added Agriculture, says growing rhubarb can be a breeze.

"The right site is pretty easy - full sun, well-drained. Simple," Naeve says. 

But that doesn't mean harvest should be careless. In fact, Naeve suggests waiting a few years - two or three - before harvesting to give the plant time to get established. After the fourth year, it's safe to harvest, but Naeve suggests not harvesting after June. It's not a question of flavor, but a matter of plant health.

"The more you harvest off of it, the weaker the plant is going to be," Naeve warns. Harvesting into the summer one year, Naeve says, could lead to spindly stalks the next.

Richard Jauron, ISU Extension Horticulture Specialist, and Mark Vitosh, Forester with the Department of Natural Resources, join the conversation to answer listener questions.